MSU backs BARRM reign, defines ‘moral governance’

By Ali G. Macabalang

ON ISLAMIC LEADERSHIP. Dr. Anshari P. Ali addresses a forum abroad on Islamic leadership in 2020. (File)


The Mindanao State University (MSU) system, through one of its field officials, has assured full support to the establishment of the new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao starting with its interim governing body called Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).

In a statement of support issued over the weekend, Dr. Anshari P. Ali, chancellor of MSU-General Santos City (GSC) campus, also called for public understanding about the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) amid debates over the issue of extending the BTA lifespan from 2022 to 2025 or beyond.

Seven bills – five in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate – have so far been filed to extend the three-year BARMM transitional administration and provide it amble time to complete its mandates in building a meaningful autonomous bureaucracy that can effectively address the vestiges of armed conflicts known as “Mindanao problem.”

Six of the bills seek to postpone the first election of 80 regular BARMM parliament members in 2022.

Chancellor Ali said there may be “gray areas” in the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) or R.A. 11054 that established BARMM, just like laws that founded the MSU system in 1960 and expanded it eventually across Mindanao.  

“There is no perfect human law. But continuing cohesive efforts can improve the BOL for the betterment of people long suffering from adversities and inadequacies spawned by human-induced and natural circumstances,” said Ali, a Shari’ah lawyer.

Laws are basically made to improve conditions of people in specific communities and generation, but they “become effective only when faithfully implemented in governances,” according Ali, who finished his master’s degree in Islamic studies at the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

He said BARMM and MSU have common “peculiar” objectives focused on improving life among constituent Muslim, Christian and lumad sectors in southern Philippines, differing only in scopes of missions.

The BARMM entity seeks to institute reforms needed for efficacious governance in the Bangsamoro community that is conducive to refined political, cultural, social and economic activities, while the MSU system bids to produce quality education as an instrument to shape a similar ideal human condition.

“BARMM stands as a lone region given autonomy with regular block grants to implement initiatives aimed at bringing its constituents at par with progressive regions in the country. MSU is also peculiar in its special mandate to integrate the cultural minorities, especially Muslims into the mainstream of the nation’s socio-cultural and political life by providing them with opportunities for quality and relevant public education for their betterment,” Ali said.

He said Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders and supporters “should be given the chance to prove worth in their initial stewardship of BARMM.”

Dr. Ali underscored the need for “public support in the leadership of MILF Chairman Hadji Murad Ebrahim as interim BARMM chief minister, especially in his campaign for ‘moral governance’ amid some skeptics.”

‘Moral governance’ definition

The MSU official, who rose to academic hierarchy against setbacks of orphanage at young age in Lanao del Sur, cited Chief Minister Ebrahim for premising his administration’s initial operations on ‘moral governance’ that made him the “first Muslim leader to openly declare such a herculean commitment.”

For public understanding, Dr. Ali defined “moral governance” as a leadership form “requiring individual self-discipline as prelude to social reforms and advancement.”

“Theologically speaking, moral governance is founded on the concept of Khilafah (vicegerency) as stated in a verse in the Qur’an verse, in which Allah says: Inni jailun fil ardhi khalifa (verily I will make a representative to the Earth,” said Ali, who holds a doctorate in Islamic Civilization at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic University in Malaysia. 

While God is the King of the Universe, the soul is deemed as king over human-body representing God. Being God’s vicegerent, the main task of the soul-king is to enforce God’s commandment over its human-body first, prior to ruling the affairs of the society, he said.  

“The first trial for moral governance of the soul-king is one’s leadership over his human body. If he failed to govern himself, he is expected to fail in governing other persons or reforming the affairs of his domain. In the human body kingdom lie entities called five external senses and five internal senses,” he explained.

He said the five external senses include the power of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touch-feeling, while the internal senses are the faculties of common sense, power of thought, power of imagination, power of memory and power of judgment.

The internal and external senses often translate to like and dislike, which usually evolve to desire leading to greed and disgust leading to hatred, respectively, when the beholders failed to moderate them, Ali said.

Desire and anger lie in the heart of every person. The heart is the temple of goodness and badness, which reflect godliness and impiety (evil), respectively. God sent down guidance to mankind through His prophets/ messengers to profess and exemplify His commandments towards piety, he said.

As a trial for human piety (submission to God), Satan has been allowed to mislead mankind towards the opposite (impiety), tempting people to the glitters of worldly comforts, and swaying them to develop desires into greed and dislikes to hatred. Greed manifests in profuse desire for something exceeding one’s needs, while hatred is revealed in one’s excessive dislike of people, things and affairs in his environment, Dr. Ali hinted.

He said this theory is interpreted in a Hadith, which says that when the heart is contaminated by greed and hatred, the beholder destroys himself, his household, other people around him, and later the society.

God revealed Suratul Asr (103rd chapter in the Qur’an):“By Al-’Asr (the time).  Verily, man is in [deep] loss, except for those who believe and do good deeds, urge one another to the truth and urge one another to patience,” he said.

This surah opens with admonition to humankind.  Allah (s.w.t.) takes an oath by “time” and declares that humankind is in a state of loss.  Every single human being, man or woman, is in a state of loss except those who strive and do four things; believe, do righteous deeds, and recommend one another to truth, and to sabr (observe patience).

Sabr is one of four principal traits of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) bequeathed to his followers starting from his four caliphs (vicegerents). The three other traits are sukhr (contentment and gratefulness to whatever God provides), fikr (utmost concern for oneself, community and environment), and Zikr (constant remembrance of God).

Desire and anger, being instinct in every person, are effectively moderated and prevented from turning to greed and hatred when one lives by the four Islamic traits, Dr. Ali said. AGM

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